Over the weekend I dug into the “final” Brexit deal cut by British Prime Minister Theresa May with the European Union. At the time I noted that prospects for passage in the European Union Parliament were excellent, but getting the deal signed off on by her own Parliament back home were dismal at best. This could spell serious trouble not only for the Brexiteers but for May and the Tories in terms of holding onto power.
Is that setting May back on her heels? Far from it. She’s returning home brimming with confidence. (Washington Times)
British Prime Minister Theresa May expressed confidence Sunday that she’ll be able to push the newly minted Brexit agreement through her nation’s Parliament, despite heated opposition from U.K. lawmakers vowing to block the deal that took nearly two years to negotiate with the European Union.
“This is the deal that is on the table. It is the best possible deal. It is the only deal,” Mrs. May said Sunday after her government sealed the agreement with leaders from the EU’s 27 other member nations dictating the terms of Britain’s departure from the bloc by early 2019.
During a meeting in Brussels, EU leaders took barely half an hour Sunday to rubber stamp a 585-page withdrawal treaty, setting the stage for Britain’s long-awaited, formal exit from the bloc in March — to be followed by a three-year transition period.
May is playing one and only one card in this showdown (which I’ll get to in a moment) but the future of this deal still doesn’t appear bright at first glance. Keep in mind the makeup of May’s majority in Parliament. The Tories (May’s Conservative Party) came up seven seats short in the last elections. They had to throw in with North Ireland’s DUP to get enough seats to hold the majority and keep her in office, but it’s not a real coalition. The DUP just agreed to support her on key votes while maintaining their own agenda.
As of now, not only is the DUP saying they’re opposed to the deal, but May doesn’t even have the support of numerous MPs in her own party. She’s unlikely to get a single vote from the minority coalition, which is composed almost entirely of Remain voters. Can she get all of these stray cats herded back into the corral?
Maybe. And that’s because of the simple, five-word sentence that May is chanting to the Tories. There Is No Other Deal. The clock is running out and going back and starting over from scratch simply isn’t an option, particularly when you consider how hard the EU has fought to sink this plan from the beginning. The Prime Minister has delivered a package that the union will sign off on. It’s either this or a “no-deal Brexit” if they are to successfully part ways with the continent.
As of now, her opponents inside her own party continue to say they should “oppose this deal and support something better.” The problem is that there isn’t anything better out there that has a chance of being passed in the EU Parliament. So the Tories have three choices. They can suck it up and take this flawed deal, they can opt for a Hard (No Deal) Brexit, or they can have the entire question returned to the people for another referendum which may see the Tories (and May) tossed out of power. That could very realistically put Labour and the Lib Dems back in charge and set up the dreaded second referendum where Brexit might disappear as if the original vote had never happened.
Looking at those choices, while still not a sure thing, it’s easy to see a number of those opposition voices in May’s own party quietly getting in line and voting for this deal. Or at least that’s what she’s clearly banking on. The vote may happen this year or possibly as late as March, but we should have the final answer by spring.